Union, Act of (Scotland)

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United England and Scotland and established the kingdom of Great Britain. In 1603 there was a union of crowns when James VI of Scotland became James I of England but the two countries remained independent states until 1707. After 1688 William III was anxious to promote union but the Commons did not agree. The process was restarted on the accession of Anne in 1702, but commissioners did not meet until April 1706. The English government was driven to seek a union when in 1705, to try to extract economic concessions, the Scottish Parliament passed an Act allowing Scotland to choose a successor to the Scottish crown on Anne's death, putting the prospect of the Hanoverian succession in jeopardy.

The unitary state of Great Britain was established on 12 May 1707 with Anne as queen, and the succession guaranteed in the house of Hanover. The Scottish Parliament was abolished, and Scottish representation in the British parliament consisted of 45 MPs and 16 representative peers (the numbers based on the respective sizes of the two economies). Free trade between North Britain (Scotland) and South Britain (England) was established, and England's colonies were open to the Scots on an equal footing. The Scots retained their own legal system, as well as their own Privy Council (this, however, was abolished in 1708). The established churches were to remain the same: Anglican in England and presbyterian in Scotland.

Subjects: British History.

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